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On the verge of playing 100 games for the Storm, Melbourne skipper Stephen Kearney has reflected on a career that has seen several highs and lows as well as its fair share of success.
?The premiership in 1999, the loss of a very good friend in (former football manager) Mick Moore, these are just some of the things that have created very strong memories for me at the Storm,? Kearney said.
?I know we (Storm) have had a couple of lean years of late but the passion that I?ve felt for the place has really built up a short but strong history that I?m very proud of.
?I?m very happy to be notching up 100 games for the club.?
Since joining the Storm in 1999 from the then Auckland Warriors ? the 31-year-old also spent three years at Wests prior to moving back to New Zealand ? Kearney has carved out a highly decorated career for both club and country.
As the youngest ever rugby league player to be named captain of his country (aged 21 in 1993) Kearney is just four games away from becoming the most capped New Zealand Test player in history.
Having played over 200 first grade games he is one of the most experienced players in the NRL and can remember his initial reaction to joining the fledgling Storm in the late nineties.
?It (100 club games) wasn?t actually a major goal of mine when I came down here but I?ve certainly enjoyed my time in Melbourne and obviously the 1999 season started things off pretty well,? Kearney added.
?I can still remember when I spoke to John Ribot and Chris Johns upon arriving here and the thing that really stood out to me was the professionalism of the club - you could really smell success around the place.
?When I arrived at the club on just my second day here, the coach asked me whether I?d brought my running shoes and training gear, obviously I hadn?t as I thought I?d be taking it fairly easy and taking care of a few media commitments.
?But the next thing you know he?d organised some shoes and I was on a treadmill in front of the coaching staff in 40 degree heat,? the Kiwi international quipped.
?Needless to say the interviews I did with the media were pretty average as I was sweating profusely and feeling very ordinary.
?But it did highlight that the place meant business and you could feel that it was a good place to be.?
After escaping a one match ban for a dangerous throw charge, young hooker Cameron Smith?s availability is a welcome relief for the Storm and with the possibility of halfback Matt Orford playing this Saturday, the Storm?s chances have improved dramatically in the past 24 hours.
?They (Smith and Orford) are very important players for us and our chances will increase will their availability,? Kearney said.
?I thought there were some real positives to take out of last week?s game against the Broncos which will keep our confidence up for the Eels.?